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PSP Video Game Review: Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble (喧嘩番長3 全国制覇) from Atlus for the Sony PSP

If you enjoyed games like “River City Ransom” or even the fighting aspects of “Shenmue”, you’ll definitely dig “Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble”!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble (喧嘩番長3 全国制覇)

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

DEVELOPER: Spike

COMPANY: Atlus

In Japan, a video game series created by Spike known as “Kenka Bancho” has had a solid following since 2005. The series has spawned a total of three games (the first game for the PS2 was re-released for the Sony PSP in 2009) and a fourth game set for release in Japan on Feb. 2010.

In the US, Atlus has released the third game “Kenka Bancho 3: Zenkoku Seiha” for the Sony PSP titled “Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble”.

The video game focuses on “yankii” culture which in Japan, describes anti-social people who typically are part of a gang. Often known for having pompadours or a certain way they wear their clothing, similar to the gangs in the US, these guys fight with other gangs in various parts of the city for dominance (others become member of Bosozoku, biker gangs) and for some, its just a phase in high school and live productive lives and for others, when they get older, some move up to become yakuza members or get into some type of trouble.

In “Kenka Bancho”, you are a high school student named Takahashi Sakamoto who wants to be the top “Bancho” in your city. Your father teaches you how to fight, how to use your “Menchi Beam” (a stare down in which you either get respect from other yankii’s or initiate a fight) and if you are about to get into the face of someone, you will be given a phrase which you will be shown each word from the phrase and must quickly select the right word from a total of four words. If you succeed, you get the first punch/kick against an opponent, lose and they get the first hit/kick against you. You also learn from your father on how to use the “Kiai Charge”, which keeps your spirits high and prepares you for anything and help regain your yankii spirit.

The object of the game is to beat the other bancho leaders from other cities and with a one week school trip in Kyoto, what best way to achieve your goal by beating up other yankii’s and stealing their trip itinerary and learning where these banchos from other cities are headed for their trip, so you can beat them and make them your peons. But during the game, you have decisions to make. Do you want to fight all bancho’s, find love with the various female interests? Depending what choices you make can lead you into different storylines.

There is also a clock in the game, so you need to follow whether or not the bancho’s will be at a certain area during the morning, afternoon or evenings and also make sure that you are in your room by curfew (at 19:00) but during curfew, interesting things go on at the Inn that you and your classmates are staying.

So, while others are on their school trip for historical fact finding, you get to roam around various cities and kick ass, earn some money, impress a girl and buy some souvenirs. But most of all gaining the respect in order to be the head bancho.

There is a two-player co-op mode via ad-hoc.

CONTROL:

Controls are quite simple. Use the analog stick to control your character and use R button for the Menchi beam, square for a charged attack, triangle for a finishing attack, X button to charge and circle button to jump. Use a combination of these buttons for a combo attack.

GRAPHICS:

Controls are good but not great. I suppose if you compare this with something similar, it would be “Shenmue” on the Dreamcast and “Shenmue” has more detail and looks better than this game. We see various shops and people walking around but the graphics are not super detailed but for this game, I do like the fact that you can go through different cities and roam around different areas.

AUDIO:

Audio is good. Mostly rockish game music and sound effects when you are punching or the sound of the “Menchi Beam” or picking up items from the ground left over by the goons.

“Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble” is a pretty cool game. The story is not super deep but the game is fun as it focuses on beating up various yankii’s on their turf, and gaining their respect. I think for those who are wanting an action game that just focuses on kicking ass, “Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble” is perfect. In a way, it does remind me of “Downtown Nekketsu Story” (aka River City Ransom) in which you fight, build up your character and use money earned to buy food but in this case, also getting better as you fight and earning more stronger moves that you can select. But for those who want a fighting game with a deeper story (ala “Shenmue”), then this game might not be for you.

Personally, so far I have been enjoying the gameplay and just grinding and building my character in order to prepare myself for the bigger brawls against more competitive bancho’s. It’s a very cool game and personally, I love anything like “River City Ransom” (which happens to be one of the first games I bought for my NES) like. And the fact that there are multiple characters that you interact with and although not a deep story, there is a story that is quite entertaining.

UPDATE: I have since beaten the game with two storylines (ignoring all potential love interests and one focusing on the Manami storyline). And there are several storylines I have yet to beat, including beating the main boss (if you lose, the game ends and you don’t get a choice of a refight. So, you will need to reload your saves). Upon beating the game, you carry over your stats and clothes but you literally play the game over again but trying to beat all the banchos and trying out various storylines. I really enjoy this game a lot and great replay value.

Overall score: 89%

PROS:
+ A very cool fighting game for the Sony PSP reminiscent to “River City Ransom”.

+ Interesting characters that you interact with.

+ Controls are easy to use and the game loads quickly.

+ The ability to gain more abilities and fight over 30+ banchos.

+ For some: More action, less story

+ Great replay value with different storyline branching

CONS:
– Some may find the grinding a bit repetitive.

– For some: More action, less story

– Camera sometimes obstructs your view of the action (ie. behind a tree).

Reviewer’s Score: 8.5/10